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Locomotor training after human spinal cord injury: a series of case studies.

date: 07/01/2000
author: Behrman AL, Harkema SJ.
publication: Phys Ther. 2000 Jul;80(7):688-700.
pubmed_ID: 10869131

Many individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) do not regain their ability to walk, even though it is a primary goal of rehabilitation. Mammals with thoracic spinal cord transection can relearn to step with their hind limbs on a treadmill when trained with sensory input associated with stepping. If humans have similar neural mechanisms for locomotion, then providing comparable training may promote locomotor recovery after SCI. We used locomotor training designed to provide sensory information associated with locomotion to improve stepping and walking in adults after SCI. Four adults with SCIs, with a mean postinjury time of 6 months, received locomotor training. Based on the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale and neurological classification standards, subject 1 had a T5 injury classified as ASIA A, subject 2 had a T5 injury classified as ASIA C, subject 3 had a C6 injury classified as ASIA D, and subject 4 had a T9 injury classified as ASIA D. All subjects improved their stepping on a treadmill. One subject achieved overground walking, and 2 subjects improved their overground walking. Locomotor training using the response of the human spinal cord to sensory information related to locomotion may improve the potential recovery of walking after SCI.

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Changes of tibia bone properties after spinal cord injury: effects of early intervention.

date: 02/01/1999
author: De Bruin ED, Frey-Rindova P, Herzog RE, Dietz V, Dambacher MA, Stussi E.
publication: Arch Physical Medicine Rehabilitation. 1999 Feb;80(2):214-20.
pubmed_ID: 10025500

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of an early intervention program for attenuating bone mineral density loss after acute spinal cord injury (SCI) and to estimate the usefulness of a multimodality approach in diagnosing osteoporosis in SCI. DESIGN: A single-case, experimental, multiple-baseline design. SETTING: An SCI center in a university hospital. METHODS: Early loading intervention with weight-bearing by standing and treadmill walking. PATIENTS: Nineteen patients with acute SCI. OUTCOME MEASURES: (1) Bone density by peripheral computed tomography and (2) flexural wave propagation velocity with a biomechanical testing method. RESULTS: Analysis of the bone density data revealed a marked decrease of trabecular bone in the nonintervention subjects, whereas early mobilized subjects showed no or insignificant loss of trabecular bone. A significant change was observed in 3 of 10 subjects for maximal and minimal area moment of inertia. Measurements in 19 subjects 5 weeks postinjury revealed a significant correlation between the calculated bending stiffness of the tibia and the maximal and minimal area moment of inertia, respectively. CONCLUSION: A controlled, single-case, experimental design can contribute to an efficient tracing of the natural history of bone mineral density and can provide relevant information concerning the efficacy of early loading intervention in SCI. The combination of bone density and structural analysis could, in the long term, provide improved fracture risk prediction in patients with SCI and a refined understanding of the bone remodeling processes during initial immobilization after injury.

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Physical rehabilitation as an agent for recovery after spinal cord injury.

date: 05/18/2007
author: Behrman AL, Harkema SJ.
publication: Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2007 May;18(2):183-202, v.
pubmed_ID: 17543768

The initial level of injury and severity of volitional motor and clinically detectable sensory impairment has been considered the most reliable for predicting neurologic recovery of function after spinal cord injury (SCI). This consensus implies a limited expectation for physical rehabilitation interventions as important in the facilitation of recovery of function. The development of pharmacologic and surgical interventions has always been pursued with the intent of altering the expected trajectory of recovery after SCI, but only recently physical rehabilitation strategies have been considered to improve recovery beyond the initial prognosis. This article reviews the recent literature reporting emerging activity-based therapies that target recovery of standing and walking based on activity-dependent neuroplasticity. A classification scheme for physical rehabilitation interventions is also discussed to aid clinical decision making.

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Mobility status and bone density in cerebral palsy.

date: 08/01/1996
author: Wilmshurst S, Ward K, Adams JE, Langton CM, Mughal MZ.
publication: Arch Dis Child. 1996 Aug;75(2):164-5.
pubmed_ID: 8869203

The spinal bone mineral density (SBMD) and calcaneal broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) was measured in 27 children with cerebral palsy. They were categorised into four mobility groups: mobile with an abnormal gait, mobile with assistance, non-mobile but weight bearing, non-mobile or weight bearing. Mean SD scores for BUA and SBMD differed among mobility groups (analysis of variance, p < 0.001 and p = 0.078, respectively).

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Shaping appropriate locomotive motor output through interlimb neural pathway within spinal cord in humans.

date: 06/01/2008
author: Kawashima N, Nozaki D, Abe MO, Nakazawa K.
publication: J Neurophysiol. 2008 Jun;99(6):2946-55. Epub 2008 Apr 30.
pubmed_ID: 18450579

Direct evidence supporting the contribution of upper limb motion on the generation of locomotive motor output in humans is still limited. Here, we aimed to examine the effect of upper limb motion on locomotor-like muscle activities in the lower limb in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). By imposing passive locomotion-like leg movements, all cervical incomplete (n = 7) and thoracic complete SCI subjects (n = 5) exhibited locomotor-like muscle activity in their paralyzed soleus muscles. Upper limb movements in thoracic complete SCI subjects did not affect the electromyographic (EMG) pattern of the muscle activities. This is quite natural since neural connections in the spinal cord between regions controlling upper and lower limbs were completely lost in these subjects. On the other hand, in cervical incomplete SCI subjects, in whom such neural connections were at least partially preserved, the locomotor-like muscle activity was significantly affected by passively imposed upper limb movements. Specifically, the upper limb movements generally increased the soleus EMG activity during the backward swing phase, which corresponds to the stance phase in normal gait. Although some subjects showed a reduction of the EMG magnitude when arm motion was imposed, this was still consistent with locomotor-like motor output because the reduction of the EMG occurred during the forward swing phase corresponding to the swing phase. The present results indicate that the neural signal induced by the upper limb movements contributes not merely to enhance but also to shape the lower limb locomotive motor output, possibly through interlimb neural pathways. Such neural interaction between upper and lower limb motions could be an underlying neural mechanism of human bipedal locomotion.

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Effect of prolonged bed rest on bone mineral.

date: 12/19/1970
author: Donaldson CL, Hulley SB, Vogel JM, Hattner RS, Bayers JH, McMillan DE.
publication: Metabolism. 1970 Dec; 19(12): 1071-84
pubmed_ID: 4321644
Bone mineral is lost during immobilization. This disuse osteopenia occurs locally in patients with fracture or hemiplegia and is generalized in quadriplegia.

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Alternate leg movement amplifies locomotor-like muscle activity in spinal cord injured persons.

date: 02/01/2005
author: Kawashima N, Nozaki D, Abe MO, Akai M, Nakazawa K.
publication: J Neurophysiol. 2005 Feb;93(2):777-85. Epub 2004 Sep 22.
pubmed_ID: 15385590

It is now well recognized that muscle activity can be induced even in the paralyzed lower limb muscles of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) by imposing locomotion-like movements on both of their legs. Although the significant role of the afferent input related to hip joint movement and body load has been emphasized considerably in previous studies, the contribution of the “alternate” leg movement pattern has not been fully investigated. This study was designed to investigate to what extent the alternate leg movement influenced this “locomotor-like” muscle activity. The knee-locked leg swing movement was imposed on 10 complete SCI subjects using a gait training apparatus. The following three different experimental conditions were adopted: 1) bilateral alternate leg movement, 2) unilateral leg movement, and 3) bilateral synchronous (in-phase) leg movement. In all experimental conditions, the passive leg movement induced EMG activity in the soleus and medial head of the gastrocnemius muscles in all SCI subjects and in the biceps femoris muscle in 8 of 10 SCI subjects. On the other hand, the EMG activity was not observed in the tibialis anterior and rectus femoris muscles. The EMG level of these activated muscles, as quantified by integrating the rectified EMG activity recorded from the right leg, was significantly larger for bilateral alternate leg movement than for unilateral and bilateral synchronous movements, although the right hip and ankle joint movements were identical in all experimental conditions. In addition, the difference in the pattern of the load applied to the leg among conditions was unable to explain the enhancement of EMG activity in the bilateral alternate leg movement condition. These results suggest that the sensory information generated by alternate leg movements plays a substantial role in amplifying the induced locomotor-like muscle activity in the lower limbs.

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Skeletal adaptations to alterations in weight-bearing activity: a comparison of models of disuse osteoporosis.

date: 01/01/2001
author: Giangregorio L, Blimkie CJ.
publication: Sports Med. 2002;32(7):459-76.
pubmed_ID: 12015807

The removal of regular weight-bearing activity generates a skeletal adaptive response in both humans and animals, resulting in a loss of bone mineral. Human models of disuse osteoporosis, namely bed rest, spinal cord injury and exposure to micro-gravity demonstrate the negative calcium balance, alterations in biochemical markers of bone turnover and resultant loss of bone mineral in the lower limbs that occurs with reduced weight-bearing loading. The site-specific nature of the bone response is consistent in all models of disuse; however, the magnitude of the skeletal adaptive response may differ across models. It is important to understand the various manifestations of disuse osteoporosis, particularly when extrapolating knowledge gained from research using one model and applying it to another. In rats, hindlimb unloading and exposure to micro-gravity also result in a significant bone response. Bone mineral is lost, and changes in calcium metabolism and biochemical markers of bone turnover similar to humans are noted. Restoration of bone mineral that has been lost because of a period of reduced weight bearing may be restored upon return to normal activity; however, the recovery may not be complete and/or may take longer than the time course of the original bone loss. Fluid shear stress and altered cytokine activity may be mechanistic features of disuse osteoporosis. Current literature for the most common human and animal models of disuse osteoporosis has been reviewed, and the bone responses across models compared.

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Femoral loads during passive, active, and active-resistive stance after spinal cord injury: a mathematical model.

date: 03/19/2004
author: Frey Law LA, Shields RK.
publication: Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2004 Mar;19(3):313-21.
pubmed_ID: 15003348

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to estimate the loading environment for the distal femur during a novel standing exercise paradigm for people with spinal cord injury. DESIGN: A mathematical model based on experimentally derived parameters. BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal deterioration is common after spinal cord injury, often resulting in osteoporotic bone and increased risk of lower extremity fracture. Potential mechanical treatments have yet to be shown to be efficacious; however, no previous attempts have been made to quantify the lower extremity loading during passive, active, and active-resistive stance. METHODS: A static, 2-D model was developed to estimate the external forces; the activated quadriceps forces; and the overall bone compression and shear forces in the distal femur during passive (total support of frame), active (quadriceps activated minimally), and active-resistive (quadriceps activated against a resistance) stance. RESULTS: Passive, active, and active-resistive stance resulted in maximal distal femur compression estimates of approximately 45%, approximately 75%, and approximately 240% of body weight, respectively. Quadriceps force estimates peaked at 190% of body weight with active-resistive stance. The distal femur shear force estimates never exceeded 24% of body weight with any form of stance. CONCLUSIONS: These results support our hypothesis that active-resistive stance induces the highest lower extremity loads of the three stance paradigms, while keeping shear to a minimum. RELEVANCE: This model allows clinicians to better understand the lower extremity forces resulting from passive, active, and active-resistive stance in individuals with spinal cord injury.

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Standing and its importance in spinal cord injury management.

date: 01/01/1987
author: Axelson P, Gurski D, Lasko-Harvill A.
publication: RESNA 10th Annual Conference San Jose, California 1987
A broad spectrum of physiological problems are associated with lack of gravitational stress in the individual with spinal cord injury. Prolonged immobilization results in systemic de-adaptations which include cardiovascular changes, the alteration of calcium homeostasis which leads to bone de-mineralization and risk of urinary calculi.

Weight bearing in the standing posture has been shown to ameliorate many of these problems and offers physiological advantages for the individual with spinal card injury.

There are also significant psychological and social benefits to standing, including improved self-image, and eye-to-eye interpersonal contact. Increased vocational, recreational and daily living independence are additional benefits of standing.